Tomorrow night at precisely 8:30 pm, more than 5,400 cities and towns in almost 150 countries and territories will switch off their lights for exactly 60 minutes, in a show of solidarity for and a commitment to helping the planet. It’s Earth Hour 2012.
It started down under back in 2007, when World Wildlife Fund-Australia urged Sydney residents to turn out their lights for an hour to “take a stand against climate change.” More than 2.2 million people and 2,000 businesses took part. The following year, Earth Hour spread to all of Australia—plus 400 more cities and towns in 35 countries.
Held on the last Saturday of March each year—a calculated decision timed around the spring equinox—Earth Hour offers people the chance to do something, even if just for one hour of one day. “Earth Hour encourages individuals, businesses, and governments to show leadership on environmental solutions through their actions,” states the campaign’s site. “Earth Hour asks everyone to take personal accountability for their impact on the planet and make behavioral changes to facilitate a sustainable lifestyle. Taking the first step is as easy as turning off your lights.”
But it’s not just about light bulbs and energy. This year’s Earth Hour, the WWF’s sixth annual campaign, offers participants the chance to take a step further, with its “I Will If You Will” challenge. It’s exactly what it sounds like: One person offers to do something if others agree to his or her “demand.”
One guy, for example, says he’ll go vegan for a month if 1,000 people go vegan for a week. Another offers to get in the water with a great white shark if 10,000 people give up plastic bags and straws for the rest of 2012. What would your demand be? And what would you do in return? (I think I’d offer to give up coffee for a month if for that same time period, 500 people agreed to eat only local produce or carry around reusable water bottles rather than single-use plastic ones—or at least if they recycled every plastic bottle they used.)
No matter what you’d opt to change, tomorrow offers an easy way to show your preference for a healthier planet. If you need light, Earth Hour recommends using beeswax or soy-based candles that are smoke free, non-toxic, and non-allergenic. Or maybe it’s one hour you simply want to be in the dark.
To keep up with the latest Earth Hour news, follow the campaign on Twitter using the handle @EarthHour or the hashtag #EarthHour. It’s just 1 day, 2 hours, and 45 minutes away.